Junior creates acclaimed Counter-Strike level

Computer Design major Max Giddens awaits the several thousand dollars of pay he will receive for co-creating a level named Façade for the popular PC video game, Counter-Strike.

Giddens and his long-distance friend from Illinois, Doug Hoogland, teamed up and spent three months creating the level using Hammer-Editor to enter a summer competition for the chance to win $500.  Giddens never expected to be making thousands shortly after their $500 win, but the level quickly became a hit on the Workshop website. This website allows designers to post their levels for others to vote, whether or not they like the level and provides access to download it.

“Creating a level is very tedious,” Giddens said. “It’s a lot like paper mache where you build a wire frame and then wrap textures around it.  We got a lot of good feedback on the workshop, and then the company decided to pick it up and include it in the game.”

First, the co-creators designed the original layout to allow a clear, enjoyable place for players of their level and later added scenery. The two developed a work-strategy together to successfully achieve their goal of designing the facade to the best of their abilities.

“We handed it off and took turns working on it,” Giddens said. “Our time spent working on the facade totaled to about 1,300 hours.”

Giddens and Hoogland met through level creating. Hoogland posts videos on how to create levels, and after creating his first level 4 years ago, Giddens contacted Hoogland to thank him and they became friends.

The level they created together is competitive and requires teamwork. It is a team vs. team gunfight between terrorists and counter-terrorists. The terrorists try to plant bombs while the counter-terrorists attempt to either prevent the planting or disarm the bomb if it has already been planted.

“Level design is my ideal career,” Giddens said. “This level being included is like a portfolio for me, so it’ll be good for a résumé.”

Facade has been streamed on Twitch TV for an audience of more than 2,000. The level has also been included in YouTube videos.

Owned by Valve Corporations, Counter-Strike is played by 3.74 million people each month, and Giddens and Hoogland, will earn a percentage of the proceeds to split for their level, Facade, while is included in the game for about three months. Counter-Strike can be purchased for about $20 through Steam software for PC only.

“It was actually kind of crazy,” Giddens said. “When they were releasing past map packs, we said we could do that, but didn’t really think we would be able to. It’s kind of cool that it ended up making the game.”

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